Nigeria men’s basketball team are out of the race for medals at the ongoing Tokyo Olympics after they lost 80-71 in their third and final group game to Italy on Saturday morning.
Despite enjoying a seven-point lead heading into the last quarter, D’Tigers for the umpteenth time capitulated when it mattered most and would be heading home with no win at all.
Having lost their first two games against Australia and Germany, D’Tigers were already walking a tight rope; needing a win against Italy to stand the chance of emerging as one of the two best third-placed teams.
D’Tigers started Saturday’s must-win game on a shaky note; losing the first quarter by as much as 12 points as the Italians wheeled away with a 29-17 points lead.
Coach Mike Brown’s men, however, shook off their slow start; taking the second and third quarters 22-11 and 24-16 thus enjoying a seven-point lead heading to the final quarter.
However, just like they caved in the final quarter against Germany, D’Tigers’ poor finishing was evident against the Italians too as they lost the final quarter 24-8 with the final score of 80-71.
Jordan Nwora and Chimezie Metu led the floor Nigeria; combining 42 points for D’Tigers but it was still not enough to save the day.
Jahill Okafor with 14 points was also massive for D’Tigers and his forced removal for injury proved costly.
The victory over Nigeria is the second for Italy who had opened their campaign in Tokyo with a 10-point victory over Germany before narrowly losing to Australia in their second game.
According to the competition format in Tokyo, the teams placed first and second in each group and the two best third-placed teams in the Group Phase qualify for the final phase.
The remaining four teams who fail to make it to the quarter-finals will take no further part in the competition.